Dictionary.com defines altruism as “the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others.” If you strive to live an altruistic life, then you dedicate significant time, energy or support to those around you, either by donating with an organization you care about, volunteering with others or even showing your support for those in your community.
Sometimes, an altruistic life can be challenging. It can sometimes feel overwhelming, unsatisfying or even lonely. At times like these it’s important to know that you’re not in it alone. There are others out there in the world who want to make a difference, too. They even write books about it. We compiled a list of six of the greatest books to read about giving back. These books inspire the altruistic lifestyle and show anyone can make an impact on the world. Let’s explore each of them more in depth.
1. Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think, Peter H. Diamandis & Steven Kotler
Published in 2012, this New York Times bestseller offers practical solutions to address some of the world’s most pressing concerns, such as overpopulation, food, water, energy, education, healthcare and freedom. The authors offer a future where nine billion people have access to all of Earth’s resources and everything else necessary for a first world standard of living.
2. Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results, Thomas J. Tierney & Joel L. Fleishman
In this 2011 book, authors co-founder of The Bridgespan Group Thomas J. Tierney, and Duke professor Joel L. Fleishman, pool together their hands-on nonprofit knowledge to present a definitive guide to engaged philanthropy for donors.
3. Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption, Katie Davis
Originally published in 2009, Katie Davis’s autobiography shares her story of courage and love. At just 18-years-old, Davis left her hometown, friends, family and boyfriend of Nashville, Tennessee, to move to Uganda, adopt 13 children and establish a ministry. If you want to read a personal impact story of altruism, this is the book for you.
4. A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity, Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn
From the same husband and wife team who brought to life the #1 New York Times bestseller Half the Sky comes their next best book in 2014. This book shares a deep examination of people who are making the world a better place, along with the myriad of ways we can support them. With research and reporting, the writers share on the art and science of giving.
5. Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results, David Peter Stroh
David Peter Stroh’s 2015 book helps readers contribute more effectively to society by teaching them what systems thinking is and why it is important in their work. It also provides concrete guidance on how to incorporate systems thinking into problem solving, decision making and strategic planning. For donors and nonprofit leaders, this is the book to start with.
6. 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, Howard Graham Buffett
What would you do if someone granted you $3 billion to accomplish something great in the world? In 2006, legendary investor Warren Buffett posed this question to his son Howard Graham Buffett. So, Howard set out to help the most vulnerable on the planet—nearly a billion people who lack food security. He gave himself a deadline of 40 years to put the resources to work on the challenge. In this 2013 manifesto, Howard shares his journey and an informative guidebook for how to ignite real changes in the world.
Altruism might feel like a lonely journey at times, but that could not be further from the truth. If you want to live a more altruistic lifestyle, start by checking out some of these six great books on giving back. Dive in, learn something new and be inspired to truly make an impact on the world.